HIV/AIDS activist Jeanne White-Ginder, mother of Ryan White, delivered keynote address
Choice Health Network hosted its fifth annual People of Courage awards luncheon to recognize recipients for contributions to HIV awareness and the LGBTQ+ community. Jeanne White-Ginder, mother of Ryan White, served as keynote speaker and inspired attendees by sharing her family’s story.
“The LGBTQ+ and allied communities united today to promote HIV awareness and improved health for all,” said Steve Jenkins, CEO of Positively Living & Choice Health Network. “We applaud the award winners for leading by example of how one should live, treat others and initiate positive change.”
Awards included: the Julia Tucker Award presented to South Press, a South Knoxville space to enjoy coffee and community, as an outstanding LGBTQ+ advocate; the Robert Braddock Survivor Award given to Henry Roark, a Choice Health Network client who exemplifies the courage and spirit needed to thrive amid HIV diagnosis; and the new Karyn Holbrook Spirit of Service Award presented posthumously to Karyn Holbrook in honor of her service as a dedicated volunteer and board member for Positively Living.
White-Ginder reminded the audience of why their presence was essential to end HIV. Her son, Ryan White, was diagnosed with HIV following a blood treatment for hemophilia in 1984. Despite not posing a risk to other students, he was barred from school and faced fierce public opposition. His family’s legal fight attracted national attention, sparking lasting changes in the treatment of people with HIV/AIDS and understanding of the illness. White died in 1990, five years longer than his doctors predicted and nearly three months before Congress passed the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency (CARE) Act. White-Ginder continues his legacy as a spokesperson for HIV/AIDS activism.
“Ryan White’s experience was a turning point for the HIV/AIDS epidemic. There is no one better to speak on the importance of HIV awareness than his mother Jeanne, who is truly a person of courage,” Jenkins said. “At Positively Living & Choice Health Network, we aspire to honor the Whites by providing compassionate care that empowers, promotes and inspires wellness across Tennessee.”
People of Courage encourages individuals and businesses to advocate for high-quality, accessible HIV care. Positively Living & Choice Health Network recently was recognized as an HIV/AIDS Center of Excellence by the Tennessee Department of Health for its comprehensive services throughout all stages of the illness. Supporters can give to Positively Living & Choice Health Network at choicehealthnetwork.org/donate.
About Positively Living & Choice Health Network
Positively Living & Choice Health Network is a 501(c)(3) public health nonprofit serving Tennessee’s most vulnerable populations: more than 6,000 individuals and families struggling to survive the challenges created by HIV, homelessness, mental illness, substance use and LGBTQ+ discrimination. The organization has offices in Knoxville, Chattanooga, Memphis and Upper Cumberland. For more information, visit choicehealthnetwork.org.